Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Mr. Bill, Creature of the Night

It's hot, summer is here, and I think I need to go buy some fans. I also need to get a job, pronto, because both my kids are lying around sleeping all day and eating all night and this costs Mommy big money. Not to mention that the dog has refused to return to dog food after his several days of chicken and rice (he had an upset tummy and that's the dog cure all) and also, paying a professional assassin to take out my cat is not going to be cheap.

The cat has to be offed. He's always been squirrely, batshitinsane, a loon and/or a host of other crazy animal metaphors, but the past few nights have clinched it: he's wacko and should be whacked. See, Mr. Bill, my cat, deeply and intensely distrusts all human beings with the occasional possible exception of me. He thinks I'm his mother: when he is feeling sentimental and/or hungry (hard to tell the difference with Mr. Bill) he climbs up on my bed purring to try to suck on my fingers or elbows or whatever part of me is peeking above the covers. Since my fingers aren't particularly productive, this sucking soon turns into sharp little bites of irritation, which leads me to emit sharp little yelps of irritation. All this was okay, though, par for the course and all that, until M moved home, A became unemployed and A's boyfriend became a more or less permanent fixture (that development has led me to emit some more sharp little yelps of irritation too, honey, you bet it has.)

Mr. Bill is convinced that all these other people are out to kill him and, more importantly, they are between him and his canned cat food, to which he is devoted with an unholy passion. It was tough for him the first few days - he'd come into the kitchen, go to eat, spot a human being, freak out, run out the door, lather, rinse, repeat, with an ever increasing amount of madness brimming in his evil cat eyes. He couldn't stand it any longer, and now he's come up with a compromise: he's become nocturnal and wants to eat, play and hang out with me between 1:30 and 6:30 a.m. He comes to my bedroom window and howls until I get up, walk to the bathroom, peer out with my bleary myopic eyes to see if he has anything live and struggling in his mouth and open that window to coax him in. Like a vampire, Mr. Bill must be invited in with dulcet tones lest he take fright and wing off and start the entire howling process over again just as I'm getting back to sleep. Then, because I am reluctant to go to the kitchen and open a can of catfood and show it to him and perhaps provide some pleasing meal time entertainment, soothing conversation and so on, I mutter something obscene and stumble back to bed. This makes Mr. Bill upset and thus he proceeds to howl up and down the hallway for an hour or so.

This morning was particularly bad, because, as I noted in the first paragraph of this epic, it is summer and it is hot and therefore I am sleeping with only a sheet over my naked body. Mr. Bill decided that I should a) wake up or b) produce cat milk from my ankles or c) feed him or d) god only knows, but something, somehow, somewhere, was not right in his universe this morning at 1:30, 3:00, 5:00 and 6:30 a.m. and he was determined to let me know about it. To which end he positioned himself by my feet and every time my legs twitched he pounced on them. A single sheet is no defense against Mr. Bill's claws and teeth so finally, driven beyond endurance, I smacked him. Guess what? It made him howl more. There is no way to win. I tried to shove him out the bathroom window but that didn't work either. I can't stand it. I'm calling in the mafia.

please note I am not actually going to kill or even injure my cat and when I say I smacked him it was an openhanded smack of exasperated love such as you might administer in a playful way to your close friends butt if you were a 14 year old boy. thank you. there is no need to call PETA on my poser vegan ass.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


My revolutionary son who shall not be blogged about has become a vegan. This is necessitating a lifestyle change for everyone in this house, up to and including the dog, because part of veganism requires reading the labels on everything (Cinnamon Toast Crunch is not, alas, vegan, but Sponge Bob Square Pants Cereal is, if you aren't that picky and give your sister the marshmallows) and reading the label on a can of chunky Alpo beef n' gravy is enough to convince even me that it's high time the dog was living on organic chicken and brown rice. I'm kind of excited about becoming a vegan, myself, because, well, have you ever seen a fat vegan? No, me either. Not even the dissolute vegans I know, the ones who live, apparently, on PBR and tater tots, are fat. So I think that this vegan thing will make me lose weight, yay, and I'll be able, maybe, to get a boyfriend even though the peony I brought into the bedroom to magically summon one promptly turned brown and shriveled up in a clear case of sympathetic magic going backwards: a simple flower is no match for the evil aura surrounding my nonexistent love life.

So I went to the Ingles and to Earth Fare and I spent huge, huge sums of money and in the Ingles parking lot I had a fight with my daughter A, who is just not behind this veganism thing at all and who had arrived with her boyfriend at Ingles planning to buy bacon and take it home and cook it, trusting the aroma to convert her brother back to a heedless consumerist junk food eating existence. I pitched a fit about this (I have a cold and am not smoking; my temper is kind of short, perhaps more so when I have just dropped more than $100 on healthy goddamn food) and she gave up and I went home to make buckwheat groats with tamari and nutritional yeast, meatfree soy sausage and sprouted whole grain toast with unsweetened organic raspberry preserves. Which she refused to eat, making smartass comments about how long this was going to last, and so on.

See, A remembers the last time I went all vegetarian on her ass - M was too young, but in my own golden youth I was also a convert to health food and vegetables. I even worked in a health food store juice bar cafe, where I was disappointed to find that, far from actually using the organic carrots and $7 EdenSoy Nayonnaise we sold in our sandwiches, we actually made food with the cheapest most horrible factory farmed carrots and huge vats of foodservice mayo. Also, after my first week there, the lady who told me she'd had nothing to eat but steamed broccoli for eight years got to me (you could tell, by looking at her, that all she had eaten was steamed broccoli: she was tall, and limp, and green) and I went out that night for ribs. Two devoted years of vegetarianism down the drain. But that was a long time ago and now I'm all fired up again. I felt so at home spending every penny I have on tahini and soy cheese and chocolate almond milk and Japanese buckwheat udon noodles. I felt virtuous and good and also, possibly, a little delirious from the cold and the lemon ginger echinacea fermented honey beverage I was swilling by the gallon. Still, here we go - into the wild vegan yonder.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

End of the School Year

M is done with 8th grade and next year he matriculates at Asheville High, which is going to be a big change for all of us. For one thing, there will be way less goats involved. It was a really nice day, beautiful weather, slightly teary eyed, good lunch and my friend S went with me so we could photograph goats together and sneak cigarettes in the woods.

I think I'm getting a cold or something though. I had a miserable headache all night and now my ears and throat and nose hurt. Blah. The first really warm summer weather is not the time to get sick.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Unbelievable Inertia

I've spent this whole day, and most of yesterday too, doing, well, nothing. Not one wretched thing unless you count reading The Wonder Boys (fabulous book! Why had I never read it before?) and surfing the internet and spending a desultory half hour pulling weeds out of the vegetable garden. True and terrible confession: it's 5:30 pm and I am still in my pajamas. That is bad, very bad. It's like I've caught A's lethargy - for all that I love her dearly I must say that she might be the laziest most lethargic person in the world, although lately I'm giving her a run for her money. The dog hair piles up on the floor; the dishes pile up in the sink - fuck it. And when I did sit down to actually work on the computer this afternoon it, infected by my ennui no doubt, promptly crashed.

Also, I seem to have lost my little green flash drive (I never know if the proper term is flash drive or thumb drive, but anyway, one of these) and it had all my code from my DHTML/CSS/Javascript class on it and last night when I went to class, late and furious because I couldn't find it, I was bereft. I have been slowly building the Ugliest Site in the World ® on that drive and it was just getting good. It used five different fonts and about a thousand patterns and colors, from screeching green to fluourescent pink; the text wobbled all over the place and, best of all, when the viewer, all unsuspecting, moved his or her mouse across it rude messages on pop up windows and sudden images of dogs appeared. All it needed was some embedded .midi files and possibly a picture of a kitten in a party hat and it would have been perfect. Damn, damn, damn.

Argh!! As I went to correct some typos on this post (blogger was having issues earlier) and add a link to The Wonder Boys, I discovered that Michael Chabon is exactly, but exactly, my age. God I can't stand people who are my age and successful; for some reason it's just so disheartening. He published his first novel in 1988! Help! In 1988 I was working at a health food store, living in a commune out in the country, raising a 5 year old, painting, making a few lame batiks & tie dyes, learning to weave, pretending to be going to school to become an art teacher, having severe agoraphobia and contemplating moving to New York. Hmmm. Perhaps I was too busy to publish a novel that year. There is that.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Great Peony Experiment

Last night at the Westville I met this woman who told me that you can attract your perfect lover if you have peonies in your bedroom. Well. Okay. I would definitely be interested in that perfect lover showing up, and I just so happen to have a fully blooming peony bush outside my living room, so, tonight, fueled by a bit of beer, I went out in the dark and cut some peonies and put them in my room. Now I am waiting, with proverbial bated breath. Or baited, I guess, is more appropriate here.

Peonies aren't in bloom very long, so I don't have very long to attract a mate. Story of my life: time is limited, bloom is fading. Damn. Peonies also have this terrible tendency to be crawling with ants, which I really hope isn't carried over unto the soon to be appearing lover, because I will happily continue celibate rather than cope with a lover who is crawling with ants. I mean, really: ewwww. I picked these in the dark, too, and so some of them are kind of ratty, and if that means I end up with a ratty lover, well shit.

But at any rate, they're in the bedroom, working their peonic magic, and I will keep you updated should that wildly unlikely thing, a date, appear in my life. Keep your fingers crossed. It may not work, but hell, goddess knows it's easier and cheaper and probably more efficient than Match.com.

In other news, like the new color scheme? These classes are paying off, bwah ha ha.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Paparazzi to the Pets

As we all know, I have this slick new camera, which I love and baby and take with me everywhere. The only problem is that I'm rapidly running out of things to photograph. Everyone in the world has now seen every inch of my backyard, often in excruciating super macro detail, and they've seen that particular trail I take in Bent Creek almost as often. Clearly, I need more subjects.

I wish I had the guts to photograph people, but I don't, except for my children, who are, alas, well aware of my obsessions and so manifest a tendency to dive under the couch whenever a camera appears. Little savages: they think I'm stealing their souls or, worse, I might post an embarrassing picture of them on the internets. I'm too shy and paranoid to ask strangers if I can take their picture, even when the perfect subject presents herself, like the heavyset lady parading down Haywood Road in an extremely vivid housedress, bouffant curls and small rat like dog on the end of a very long leash.

So I photograph animals. Mostly Theo and Mr. Bill, over and over, to the point where they, too, duck when the camera comes out, but that doesn't stop me, I just stalk them. I've branched out and started stalking other peoples' animals too: I'm even fantasizing about a no doubt lucrative new career as a Pet Photographer. Doesn't that sound gruesome? I'd have to increase my drinking a lot to cope with that one. I've been trying to take pictures of wild animals, but wild animals are more camera shy than Madonna at the supermarket. Years ago when I lived in Maryland I had a vegetable garden that was being eaten nightly by the huge old groundhog we called Mr. Snuffles (we eventually started calling her Mrs. Snuffles, but that's another story.) I put up a fence around the garden and was startled, when I came home the next day, to find it had worked brilliantly: there was Mrs. Snuffles, trapped inside the garden by the new fence. So I spent about an hour walking around the outside of the fence, with her frantically pacing me on the inside, me talking in a calm and reasonable voice about how she could probably get out here, or here, or, uh, just let me lift this up AAAGHHH!! and her making noises that indicated her plans to kill me and eat my brains. Finally I said, fuck this, I'm taking pictures, and went to get my camera. The minute she saw that camera, she was OUT of there, through the fence and into the woods at speeds you wouldn't think a groundhog could achieve. Obviously, the paparazzi had burned her before and she had never recovered from that National Geographic spread.

Becoming one of the paparazzi can mess with your mind. Last night I went out to smoke a cigarette and at the bottom of the stairs was Mr. Bill - with a large dead gray thing, possibly a rat, possibly a bird, possibly, who knows? Maybe the Gnome King: I didn't get close enough to find out. Mr. Bill was, as far as I could tell, reenacting the whole hunt and kill for an interested audience of Theo and the dogs next door. He kept tossing his pet corpse up into the air and snatching it back, jumping on it and generally behaving in a way that I pretty much wish I hadn't seen, because this is the cat who sleeps on my knees every night. If I was in my right mind, I wouldn't have watched. Not only did I watch, I went to get the camera. Then, and you can all be thankful here, I came to my senses and stopped myself. Even the paparazzi must know when to back away and also, being out there would have involved having the door open, which might have led to the dead thing being in the living room, and that would have been bad, bad, bad. I am not taking any more pictures of corpses.

Unless they're way photogenic corpses, that is.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Road Vignettes

I seem to be in more of a list making mood than a writing mood lately, so here are seven things I have noticed while driving up and down the road from Asheville to Celo and back again and hither and thither around town:

a. There were 2 cardinals fighting madly at the end of a driveway, dipping up and down in a wild red flutter.

b. Fog wreathes the tops of mountains and dips down towards the highway. M says that all the oil in the asphalt of the interstate repels the fog and that's why it rarely touches the ground. I say that I have trouble believing this. He agrees that it may not be true.

c. I'm not sure if that was a wild turkey or a turkey vulture, standing there on the side of the road. Either way I'm excited, although we are supposed to venerate wild turkeys and hate turkey vultures.

d. Tobacco barns are pretty, silvered and gray. Why are regular barns red?

e. A pinto foal, trotting.

f. Yesterday in the rain at the stoplight I counted cars: white car, silver car, red truck. Yellow car, white truck, silver car. Red light, green light, blur.

g. The wildflowers alongside the interstate look like multicolored snow drifts scattered through the grass.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday Morning Whining

Here are some vaguely assorted whines for your delectation.
1. I have cramps.
2. Coming into the house, particularly the kitchen, after M has been home for 24 hours is akin to nothing so much as a stroll through post Godzilla Tokyo. I went shopping yesterday and he already ate everything.
3. Memoirs of a Geisha is a lousy movie. See also, King Kong. A joked weakly that maybe we should watch the deleted scenes. "There were no deleted scenes!" I said.
4. My pumpkins are obdurately refusing to sprout. Why can't I make pumpkins grow?
5. That top half of the vegetable garden is cursed or something.
6. The cat woke me up at 5:30 this morning. He is loud.
7. It is raining. It is always raining when I have to go to the laundromat.
8. I have a literal mountain of laundry to carry over to the laundromat in the rain.
9. I have nothing to read and the West Asheville library is closed on Mondays.
10. I would appear to have lost the vitally important paperwork from the high school that I need to have completed by the end of the week.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


There are kid issues, and there are school issues, and I've been obsessing over these issues to the point where it's messed up my sleep. I spent one particularly awful night having nightmares about being chased and eaten by a red dragon; every time I woke up shaking, flipping out, half expecting my legs to be eaten and then slowly calmed myself down and went back to sleep it was still there, which is just unfair. Then when I'm not dreaming about hungry dragons I've been dreaming about babies and small children and stray blue tick hounds that I have to get into my car. It's exhausting.

I am not good at confrontations and I don't like them and as a general rule I try to avoid them like the proverbial plague. I've had to have a couple of them this week and it's left me wrung out and miserable, even though they haven't been the kind of confrontations that anyone else would even think were confrontations. They've more been in my own head, and those are often the worst kind. There are times when no matter how much you try to compromise you end up making nobody happy, and I hate that shit. And I feel like I've been bullied and pushed around and I don't like it. Argh.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

News Flash Fish!

This is a picture of Fish, who lives in my "pond", a.k.a. the sunken bathtub in my backyard. Except we can no longer call him Fish, because he is no longer alone! In fact, he has never been alone. There are two fish in the pond! I had just never seen the other one before since he (or she) is camouflaged: he has lovely black spots. I feel better knowing that Fish is not swimming around in lonely splendor, but has had a companion all this time, through the winter ice, the leaf deluges of fall and spring and all the other no doubt fascinating day by day dramas of life in the tub. Where did he come from, you ask? Well, clearly I bought him. Last year or the year before; I have some vague memory of getting a couple of cheap goldfish at Wal Mart and dropping them into the pond, saying, "Good luck, guys!" and promptly forgetting about them. I was surprised as hell when I saw Fish alive this spring and it didn't even occur to me that there might be more than one.

So, we needed a name change since calling Fish Fish, while descriptive, is clearly just not descriptive enough. Drawing on my vast resources of creative nomenclature, I have decreed that from now on we have Fish One and Fish Two. What we all really want to know, of course, is whether this is going to lead to Little Fishes Three, Four, Five and Six Hundred and Twenty Three. According to this helpful article, it's unlikely. Apparently goldfish aren't sexually mature until they're two (wow. They live past two?) and, surprise, surprise, you have to have a boy and a girl goldfish, because, and I quote: Typically males will chase around a female within an hour, and all eggs will have been spent within an hour after that. Males drive the female into and amongst the spawning media where both release their sex products; with an occasional rest break every few minutes.. Isn't that cute? It sounds just like a night at the bar! They even stop for a cigarette now and then. It would be awesome if Fish One and Fish Two had babies, but I'm not going to hold my breath. For all I know, they're both girls, or both boys, and I'm not picking them up to investigate further.

Mygothlaundry Poster

Mygothlaundry Poster
Originally uploaded by lipstick thespian.
My friend LT created this for me, using that old camera phone picture that S took last spring. Dag, I laughed helplessly for a long time. These motivational posters are most awesome, and you can make one here:


theo as usual.jpg
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
Is there a limit to the number of animal prints anyone should have on one red couch? Two different leopard blankets, check. Cow print knitting bag, check. Fabulous made by me penguin throw pillow, check. Is it too much? That is a good strong fashion question. But who am I to ask? Given the recent cold snap, hell, not only do I toss prints around with abandon, I have resurrected my 1980s leggings, much to the shame and chagrin of my children. I think they look cool with my black miniskirt, hah. And Theo, photographed here assuming his usual position, agrees with me. Because he's a fashion god, y'all. Look at how glamourous he looks with that pillow. ;-)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Weather and Volunteers

I would just like to take a moment to note that it is almost the end of May and, according to the thermometer on my front porch, it is 45 fucking degrees fahrenheit. That means that for once, the temperature outside and the temperature inside are roughly the same, or at least I think they are: I'm not going to look at the inside thermostat because it might make me cry. I am sitting here wearing a heavy fleece pullover and a blanket wrapped around my legs. I knew there was a reason that Mr. Bill slept in the bed with me all night and a couple of times attempted to get under the covers. This is ridiculous. This is absurd. Also, I am cold and my left hand keeps going a little numb on the mouse.

My daughter A is a weather nerd. That is to say, she is in no way nerdy at all, ever, no, she is the epitome of post modern coolness (who reads this blog occasionally,) except that she genuinely enjoys the weather channel, tracks the weather online and has been known to say, unironically, "Hey! Let me just check the doppler!" She has many theories about the current weather situation and she will explain them at some length. The other day she asked me if I knew why the weather was being so weird. "George W. Bush?" I asked, "It must be his fault." Do not crack jokes about such serious subjects as the weather with A. "No." she snapped, "It's because the seasons have speeded up and instead of having four distinct seasons, we're cycling rapidly through all of them on a monthly basis!" Ooooookay. The weather has apparently become bipolar. I still blame George W. Bush.

Meanwhile, the top half of my vegetable garden still is resolutely refusing to grow and I'm concerned. But to make up for that, I have a few odd volunteers in odd places: there's a sunflower in the lawn, not far from the vegetable garden, which is already much taller than any of the sunflowers I actually planted, and there are two happy little squash-of-some-kind seedlings in completely random places in the back yard. I'm intensely curious to see what they turn into. I put a stake by the sunflower with a seed packet impaled on it so it wouldn't get mowed. I think I'm going to put the bent and rusted tomato cage that I rescued from the bushes on the grounds that it looks like a piece of sculpture (not, perhaps, a very good piece, but hey, it was free) around the squash and see if it turns into a gourd vine, which is the only thing it really could be, unless a seed from a piece of about to be grilled zucchini fell there and decided to become a plant. My yard is getting more interesting again.

When I found them the other day I started clearing some grass away from one in a helpful way. Everything I know about gardening I mostly learned from The Secret Garden, which I read and reread obsessively as a kid, and in which Mary Lenox, poor orphan in large mysterious Victorian house, teaches herself to garden by, basically, clearing leaves away from small plants. That seems to be all she does, and it works like a charm, leading, ultimately, to riches and joy. I have found that there's a little more to gardening than that, really, also, the riches and joy seem to be a bit delayed. Unfortunately, while I was clearing the squash in my best Victorian orphan way, Theo, who is a helpful if dimwitted dog, decided to give me a hand and started digging it up. I yelled at him and he desisted with a hurt and puzzled look. It's a tough call - Theo, after months of watching me hard at work, has decided that digging holes around the yard is Useful and Good and I hate to discourage him when you can see that he's just shining with virtue as he digs. He's not particularly discriminatory though: he dug up my African daisies twice and I have seen him eying the day lilies. If I could just teach him to only attack honeysuckle, morning glories and wild strawberries I would feel like Mary Lenox at the end of the book, but alas, I think that may be beyond his powers.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Why Do We Have Nuts?

A asks innocently, "Why is there a bowl of nuts on the kitchen table?"
"We've had them since Christmas. I keep going to throw them away, and then I feel guilty, because they're perfectly good nuts and I think how the squirrels would like them and I should just give them to the squirrels, but then I think that I don't like squirrels and I certainly don't want to feed them or encourage them in any way, so then I think I should take them down to the park and give them to the squirrels in the park. But then I think that that might be illegal and anyway at the very least it's a pain in the ass and so I end up putting them back on the shelf in the dining room until the next time I go to throw them away at which point. . . "

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Cats and Birds

I like cats. I also like birds. These two things can sometimes be a bit difficult to reconcile, since its a cat eat bird world out there.

Hey new blogger bug! I cant use the apostrophe or, as it is sometimes called, the single quote. Big fun. I never use them right anyway, so no loss. Dig, my arrow keys seem to be disabled as well. Hmmmmm. The World Wide Web is a Weird and Wacky place, boys and girls, and I know that, because I just spent three hours learning javascript, or rather, a small bit of javascript wherein I can create a) a button and b) a popup window. Big thrills and chills.

To return to our story, which is suddenly less interesting, not that it was ever all that damn fascinating in the first place, this morning, when I went out to smoke a cigarette and brood over the vegetable garden, as I am wont to do of a morning, talk to the plants and all that good hippie shit, you know, I discovered that there had apparently been an Epic Battle in it last night. An Epic Battle between a cat (presumably Mr. Bill) and a bird (species unknown.) There are feathers all over the place, one of the pepper seedlings was knocked almost over, some of the corn seedlings were flattened and so on. This pissed me off - I dont want the damn cat in the veg garden, he thinks its just a big litterbox anyway - and also, Im kind of at a loss as to how to clean it up. There doesnt seem to be any actual corpse there (thank god) but there are a ton of feathers and fluffy down thats going to be almost impossible to pick up. Ick. God damn animals.

In other cat news, the last few times Ive been over at ABTech, there have been a bunch of extraordinarily well fed stray cats out in the back parking lot. Tonight, they were gone, and I am worried. I liked them and their insouciance and their general air of obese self containment. They wouldnt let me near them, but they seemed pretty healthy and happy in general, much more than usual stray cats. I hope some well meaning person trapped them and took them home, but Ill be sad if they just went off to the pound for execution, which is probably what happened.

It is freezing outside. I went out for a couple beers with my friend J last night and it was unbelievably cold according to the bank sign across the street, like 48 degrees, which is unheard of in the middle of May. It hasnt been warming up much during the day, either. I am worried about M, who is on an 8 day canoeing trip and who I just know didnt take a sweater or a coat, because he never does, and I am worried about me, who is getting crankier and crankier and wearing more and more clothes. Right now, for example, I think Ill give up, put on my flannel pajamas and go to bed under a pile of quilts. Welcome back winter.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Phone Messages, Books and Penis Fungus

I got a deservedly somewhat snarky email from my brother that started off, "You never return my phone calls" (which I don't, but it's nothing personal: basically I don't return anyone's phone calls) and my daughter A, sitting at the computer, saw the subject line. I was outside reading a book and she came out to find me. "Are you not listening to your messages again?" she said sternly.
"No." I said, withering under her penetrating glare, "But I'm sure they're not important!" I'm afraid of my messages because so often they're either a) computers saying Call this number immediately, which is a bill collector, or b) people asking me to do stuff.
A sighed, which is something she's very good at. This was officious sigh number 12, and then I gave her my phone and told her to listen to them. She likes doing this because she's nosy and also it makes her feel superior to me. Whatever, I think. As long as I don't have to listen to them. This one was particularly bad, though.
"Mom! You have SIXTEEN messages on here!" Yes, it was bad. AB Tech apparently did tell me that the class was cancelled, one of my best friends is coming to visit in June and, uh, I'm sorry about all the stuff I missed. Gulp.

I read two absolutely fantastic books this weekend: Connie Willis' Doomsday Book and Iain Banks The Player of Games. Very different, but both brilliant. Doomsday Book is set in the relatively near future, but with time travel, so that historians can go back into the past. To Say Nothing of the Dog is another book of hers in the same world, but where it's hilarious and lighthearted, Doomsday Book is dark. A young historian goes back to the middle ages, planning to arrive about 25 years before the Black Death - of course, something goes wrong and she ends up there right before the Plague begins. Meanwhile, back in contemporary England, there's another plague, a terrible flu epidemic. Plagues make for chilling, heartbreaking reading and, of course, they're horribly relevant these days, when dire warnings of bird flu and pandemics, ebola and that strange awful thing in Texas fill the news reports. The Player of Games is set in the far distant future, when we will all be watched over, to steal from Bradbury, by machines of loving grace. In the Culture, Banks' universe, pretty much all problems have been solved, spaceships and orbiting semi planetary living spaces and small flying drones are all sentient, people change sex as casually as they change their shoes and so on. Banks' protagonist is an obsessed, brilliant game player who ends up being sent to another Empire, younger than the Culture and reminiscent of our own time, to play a game. The whole thing is an interesting riff on ideas of hierarchy and government, free will, law, restrictions and the notion of ownership. I love Banks' work and I want to go live in the Culture, but I always wonder, how the hell, if there is no money and no need to do anything, do they get humans or drones to tend bar, wait tables or do any of those boring annoying yet necessary jobs?

Yesterday I worked in the garden most of the afternoon. The pumpkins are planted and I spent a lot of time crawling around under the roses pulling up wild strawberry, annoying little viney thing that it is. While I was down there I found these fungi, and because they are so peculiar and creepy looking, I took a macro photo (yay! New camera! Yay!) of them which is when I discovered that they look like tiny blue penises. My friend Zen says they are actually called Dead Man's Fingers, which is just a charming name, and they won't hurt the roses, so I share them now with you. Dead Man's Penises. Or possibly Dead Gnome's Penises, because they're really, really small.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Some Cool Stuff

I can't get this song (video link) out of my head. Ignore the beginning of that video! Fast forward until you get to the song (music only) ! I know, it's made its way around the blogosphere but once I started listening to it I couldn't stop, and even A agrees that it is the cutest song ever. It's just so adorable. I can't help it; it makes me come over all weak at the knees. Big warm fuzzy secret heart! Oh god! I can't stand it!

These are some extraordinarily cool pictures which demonstrate that dropping your $800 digital camera into a river is not always a bad thing. I saw these years ago but I just came across them again and was blown away yet again.

And finally, yet another addictive little game I've been playing for several frustrating weeks. Pick up as many green bubbles as you can and deliver them to the clear bubbles to get points; don't touch the purple bubbles or you'll die.

Bah AB Tech

As you may have noticed, I have recently reinvented myself and become a student. Today, I was signed up for the first of two intensive Saturday all day Photoshop workshops - yes, me, I signed myself up, not even under duress, to spend two Saturdays in a row beginning at the ungodly hour of 9:00 a.m. in a computer lab adding to my knowledge of Photoshop. To which end I woke up this morning at about 7:15 and got out of bed begrudgingly at around 8:00 and fed the animals and took a shower and ate breakfast and even had time to smoke a cigarette and take a couple of bad pictures of the back yard in this unfamilar early morning light and still be only about 3 minutes late to class.

Except when I got to Enka, I noticed in a sort of anthropological way that there were hardly any cars in the parking lots and, actually, they were all trucks, and, oddly, the building was all locked up except for one door, which was annoying but I figured it was just one of those things. Seeing as how I am a regular AB Tech student now, I know their little tricks. I know, for example, that all the paperwork says that classes are held in Haynes 135 when, in fact, Haynes 135 is the vending machine room. It's just a test - you have to figure out on your own where classes are. I was prepared for that. I know where all the computer labs in that building are now, so I didn't even bother with the vending machines, I went straight to the labs on the third floor. Which were locked. All of them were locked and dark and silent. I began to get a little worried. On my way through the building I had passed one open room; a class full of uneasy burly men preparing for their contractor's exam. The rest of the building was completely deserted.

I got in the elevator, which closed behind me, and pressed 1. Nothing happened. Nothing happened when I pressed door open. Oh god, I thought, I'm stuck and I'll have to push the alarm button and there's nobody here to hear it and also, god, this is going to be so embarrassing. But anti-climax: the elevator finally worked and I gave up and went on home, after checking the vending machines to see if, perchance, a small sad photoshop class might be gathered around a bottle of Coke. It wasn't.

I guess the class was cancelled, which makes sense; really, who gives up two consecutive May Saturdays to take Photoshop? Besides me, that is? It was nice of them to tell me though: in fact, I assumed I must have missed it, but when I got home I went through all my old mail and there was nothing. There's noone in any office to call and here it is 10:00 in the morning and I'm all clean and showered and dressed and I've been up for almost three goddamn hours, which is ridiculous. So I'm going over to my mother's, since she's the only person I know who is awake.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Garden Toddling Right Along

This is it; I am not, not, absolutely not going to spend one more thin dime on the garden or the plants on the front porch this year. Well, except perhaps for some more wave petunias. One can always use more wave petunias, and when the pansies give out in the front container by the mailbox, something else, besides weeds, will have to go in there. Still, it's over. I've spent a fortune, again, after swearing I wouldn't do that this year. My mother was telling me about a book she just read called the $64 tomato and damn if that's not probably about right. I bet I could eat fresh organic produce for a year on what I spend on the garden every spring. And I'm not even charging for my labor. Except I wouldn't be able to buy flowers too, so it all evens out in the end.

Actually, the vegetable garden is being peculiar this year. Either nothing has sprouted in the top half of it or I forgot to plant that half. Both explanations are mystifying and I am puzzled. I could have sworn I put in half a row of zucchini, and you know that zucchini is not shy, or difficult to grow, but there's only one kind of sad looking sprout. So I stuck a few squash seedlings from Lowes in there tonight and half heartedly planted some beet seeds; now watch, the squash and cucumbers and melons and pumpkins will all cross pollinate and produce mutant inedible fruits, like that wild yellow orb last year. Squash is promiscuous and slutty at heart and thinks nothing of intra varietal romance. And the beets? The beets won't make it. Even though for years I've been tilling and digging and adding compost & peat moss & manure & ashes &, well, just about everything short of chemicals to that soil, it's still basically the same stuff you make terra cotta pots out of, and root vegetables don't have room to form. Yet again I'm in awe at the pioneers: how the ever living fuck did they manage to scrape out a living in these here hills? This soil really only wants to grow morning glories and honeysuckle, and nobody can live on that but fairies - not the big Elven faeries with swords, either, the twee Victorian flitty variety. Even the fairies get stunted in this red clay.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Gross & Terrible Thing to Come Home To


Look (or don't, I understand) what was in my living room when I got home tonight. Aren't you glad I got this new camera so I can document terrible stuff like this? I knew this spring had been too easy on the dead and dying animal front, but jesus, just the head? Bleargh! Glaaah! Eeeeeewwwwwwww!! And I had to pick up that head, that terrible decapitated accusatory head, in a bunch of paper towels and throw it away. I feel like Henry VIII or something, even though I didn't cut it's iddle head off. No, I guess that this whole tableau is by way of being a feline art project, courtesy of Mr. Bill.


Later, after the shock had worn off: I don't think I can call it a decapitated head, can I? Because decapitated implies head, therefore that should refer only to the body. But there just doesn't seem to be as good a word - decorpusified? - for the head only. Hmmmm. It is a linguistic quandary.

New Camera!

I have a new camera! I am extremely excited and I wish the weather would cooperate so I could go take a whole bunch of pictures, but alas, it keeps on threatening rain and/or actually raining, and, since this is my new camera, I'm terrified of getting it wet. Or dusty, or hot, because I've been reading the manual and it says those are conditions to avoid, which is going to be a problem in another month, when my entire house will be dusty, moist and hot. You're also not supposed to go along swinging it from the strap and banging it into things, which I had kind of figured out by myself, but then the people who write manuals have so much fun with all their dire warnings about the dangers of AA batteries and so on that somehow I just can't begrudge them telling me not to swing the camera hard into a brick wall.

This is a serious camera, yo. It came with tons and tons of accoutrements and several manuals in English and Spanish and large fold out charts, again in English and Spanish, telling me how to make it work. The manual is complex and written in tiny print, and right at this very moment I'm sitting on it, since I stuck it in my back pocket when we went to the park an hour ago to take pictures, just in case I needed to whip it out and consult it. I should have, too, but then I would have needed my magnifying librarian glasses and it was windy and also A was with me, and she gets horrified whenever I do anything particularly geeky, like read a camera manual in public. I need the manual though, since this camera has a bazillion buttons and menus and it's heavy and a little intimidating, which is all good. I want a camera that says "I am a Photographer" instead of one that says "I am Silly" which is kind of how I always felt when I was messing around with my old point & shoot. Not that I don't still love my old camera - it is an awesome little camera that has taken many wonderful pictures & I've learned a lot - but this new camera, now, this is a Camera. I have wanted a Camera my whole life, or, well, since I was about 12 or 13 and I've never had one before. This is awesome. I took it to my room with me last night so it wouldn't get stolen or mysteriously poltergeistilly bumped or spirited away and I haven't let it out of my sight since I woke up this morning. I am in love. At last, I am in love.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I went to class last night to learn CSS and PHP and XHTML and all kind of other exciting whooo whee kinda things that are going to make me into one of them hot shot web designers like you read about on the tee vee. And, actually, it was cool; I like my teacher - he's a million light years away from my last AB Tech "I will read the book aloud to you in this class even when it doesn't make sense because I am ditzy as all hell" flash teacher. I haven't sat in a classroom and learned really new things in, oh, about twenty years and I was surprised at how exciting it was. I could kind of feel my brain clicking on again, and it's about time for that to happen. I took four pages of notes and my right wrist hurts like hell today, but who cares, for as you may have noticed, I have already applied some of my new knowledge and that's why there is now a lovely pattern of leaves up at the top there instead of just the boring old blogger template. So I'm enthused and really hoping this leads to something, which it will, even if something is just more leaves all over my blog.

Now my friend J and I are talking about starting a design business and I think we probably will do that - I'll do web, she'll do print. Between the two of us, we really have everything we need (she has Illustrator, I have Dreamweaver - it's like that song about the roller skates, isn't it?) to get a nice little business going so keep your fingers crossed that that happens. We just need a name. I suggested Basket Case Design and she suggested Design One Step Short of Nervous Collapse and while we both kind of like Please We Have to Make Money in Asheville Before We Starve To Death Design it's just possible that these aren't quite catchy enough. So help us name our fledgling business!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Zen and the Art of Mowing the Lawn

I mowed the lawn today. I keep trying to achieve pure Buddhist satori no mind while mowing the grass, but stuff keeps getting in the way of that. I mean, what did the zen master say when all the grass hit him in the face? I personally curse a lot and in particular I curse the day I decided to disable the safety guard on the lawnmower so it would work more efficiently and I wouldn't have to keep leaning over with a stick and pulling grass out of the discharge thingie while balancing on one foot (the other one, you see, has to keep the guard open) and also holding the safety bar by the handle with the hand that isn't poking the moving blades with a stick. Since then, lawnmowing has been less acrobatic but more hazardous; the likelihood of going blind when a stick or part of a dog toy (or, as happened one horrific and memorable day a couple years ago, half a rather large copperhead snake) flies out of the mower and slams into my eye (okay, the half snake didn't hit me in the eye. It flew out near me and I screamed for a surprisingly long time - from several hundred yards away, in fact, from more or less under my bed, where I had teleported myself pretty much instantaneously) is incrementally higher. What's life without risk? Mowing the lawn: a life or death experience.

I also mow the lawn in concentric counterclockwise, or widdershins for all you Wiccans, spirals. This is the most efficient method, I believe, since it lessens the amount of old caked grass the mower has to suck up and then either get clogged in it's innards or spit out into my eyes to blind me. Also, I like to think it keeps ghosts, demons and aliens at bay because, as we know, interlocked spirals confuse the hell out of the supernatural. That is, if the supernatural beings in question aren't really the sharpest tools in the shed, and I, personally, live in hope that, if I'm ever being psychically attacked by creatures from another dimension, they're kind of clueless. That way I can just shout "Look, over there!" and speedily make my getaway. Or divert them from ever attacking in the first place and instead come outside one morning to find them plodding around and around my yard, fascinated by the crop circles therein. That would rock, because then, after quickly whipping up some spiffy uniforms, I can make them my minions, at which point, look out world: I'll be a very happy camper. I absolutely know that my life would be exponentially better if, in many given situations, I could just say, "Minions, attack."

Monday, May 08, 2006

So My Therapist Told Me To Paint

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
And I did. I turned out a terrible landscape with a cow in it and then, frustrated yet again by an attempt at semi realism, I did this one, straight outta the depths of my subconscious, which is apparently kind of a freaky place. Like I didn't know that. I know, this painting sucks too, but I kind of like it. For one thing, the faces turned out okay. . . oh hell, I don't know. I used to be an artist.

Well, I don't care. I'm getting kind of fond of this thing. I'm not sure, and I'm really not sure I want to know, what it says about me, but I think it's kind of cool, in it's own awful way, anyhow.

Weekend Recap & Etc.

Thanks again in multitudes to my friend J for hosting such a great birthday party for me on Saturday night. It was huge fun and I also got presents, which made it even better, since I am a greedy pig. My friend E gave me a giant stuffed lobster and my friend J gave me a Ganesha and my friend H gave me a scarf she knitted herself, which is beyond gorgeous. And I also got tons of lovely smelly things: soaps & shampoos & scented oils & beer, too, which I guess counts as a smelly thing. It was big fun.

Saturday was gorgeous; I took A to the airport first and then went to the herb fair, where I was more careful than usual but still came home with some pineapple sage and some other sage and some woad, of all peculiar plants, but M has always wanted to be a Pict and paint himself blue, and now, if the woad takes off, he'll be able to. Right now there's only enough woad to possibly do one finger blue, but hopefully it will grow and then, you know, he can paint himself blue, take up his sword and pike and go terrorize some Roman legions. Everyone needs a hobby.

All of these plants are still sitting in their little pots, unplanted, because it's been grisly cold and damp and miserable ever since Saturday. After the herb fair my friend E & I & Theo the dog went on a long hike up at Bent Creek, which was beautiful, full of butterflies and curiously devoid of mountain bikers, which seemed strange until we remembered that this was the weekend of the Mountain Sports Festival so all the bikers were, no doubt, downtown jumping over ramps in the City/County Building parking lot. Then I zipped around like a madwoman getting ready for the party and then, of course, I partied like a madwoman, or, well, like a fairly calm and mellow madwoman. Yesterday, being Sunday, I did nothing, as God commanded (I just love it when my wishes and God's coincide. Pretty much we only agree on this resting on Sunday thing and sometimes his idea of rest and mine differ a bit, but, you know, we have to work around these little issues.)

Now it is Monday and I spent most of it over at my friend J's, who has Adobe Illustrator, which she kindly used to fix up some icons for a website I work on. Then we had lunch at Burgermeister & drove around for a bit & looked at cameras, which brings me to the big news: I ordered a camera just now off Amazon and it should be here by Wednesday. Woooooo!! I am so excited. And, if you missed it in the comments, I did win $65 on the Derby, which will apparently take like a month to extract from the online betting site, but I still won it and I will eventually have it, yes. So all this is good and now I have to go and do a painting for my therapist, which is going to be interesting as hell, and by interesting I mean painful. Or I could watch the end of King Kong - that's an option too.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Ponies

In which our heroine discovers the wild world of online betting. . .

So my older brother gave me $50 for my birthday, with the caveat that this money must be used to bet on a horse for the Derby - either that or returned to him. Since gambling seems to be about the only vice on the planet that I can't get addicted to, I tried to wiggle out of this stipulation, but he called me from Louisiana or Texas or wherever he is at the moment to give me shit until I hunkered down in front of the computer and figured out how to bet on a horse online. Also, my mother called and told me that Barbaro was going to win and I had, by god, better bet that money on him. So I did. It took ages. For some reason I have absolutely no problem blithely entering my credit card and all personal information into websites that are promising to send me books or T-shirts or computer things or whatever, but entering that same information into gambling websites wakes up the latent paranoid Puritan in my soul and I'm sure they're going to drain my bank account, highjack my identity and leave me penniless in the gutter. Even more penniless in a deeper gutter than usual, I mean. Also, it's just not that simple.

You would think - I did - in this day and age, that it would be perfectly easy to bet any amount of money on anything using a credit card and a couple clicks of the mouse. You would be wrong, as I was. Betting on a horse for the Kentucky Derby is a complex, multi step process involving a lot of cross cultural diplomacy. It turns out that you have to register with the betting site first and by register I mean give them every bit of personal information that you possess. I did this over the phone, with someone named Diego. Diego's English, while undoubtedly better than my Spanish, was still not really up to the whole spelling things out task that phone information processing requires. Part of that was my fault; I can never remember what you're supposed to use as examples. I mean, normal people, when forced to spell things out over the phone, say A as in apple, S as in Sam, etc. I can't remember those nice normal things and instead my brain presents me with L as in lizard, V as in vampire, P as in psychoanalysis and so on, and I don't think Diego had a clue what the hell I was talking about. Eventually, though, with many mutual apologies, we figured it out and then I asked if I could bet now. No, no, I couldn't bet: I had to deposit money in my account first. Great, could I use a credit card for that? No, no I couldn't; that would be much too simple.

There are many different ways you can deposit money into your online betting account. None of them are simple. Some of them, as I discovered after a confusing 15 minute chat session with someone named "Billy" won't work for people who don't have a landline phone. Time was running short. I called the betting place again and, desperate, handed over all my financial information: bank account number, routing number and so on. Then I went back to the computer to actually bet my money. No go - and it was 20 minutes to post time. I called back and got Juanita. I said excitedly, "I want to put $20 on Barbaro to win, place or show, $20 on Sinister Minister and $10 on Steppenwolfer because I like his name!"
"You can't do that," said Juanita impatiently, "You only have $50."
"But that is $50."
"No, no. Those bets total $120 just for the first two."
I became completely confused. Have I mentioned that math is not my strong suit? "Help." I said plaintively, "I've never done this before and I don't know what you're talking about."
Juanita was very patient and she walked me through it. You can't just bet money to win, place or show - that's three separate bets, and they have to be filed, or whatever it is they do with them, individually.

So I ended up betting $8 to win, $8 to place and $8 to show on both Barbaro and Sinister Minister and forgot about Steppenwolfer altogether. I thought I was being smart, hedging my bets and being canny. I am clever, I thought. I can't lose. All my money won't just evaporate now. And it didn't, but shit. The one time in my life I'm prudent and yet again it is proved that I should listen to my mother, because if I'd just bet the whole damn $50 on Barbaro I'd be rich as hell right now and in the process of buying a digital SLR like I want. Alas, though, because I was cautious, and because I went with Sinister Minister, who came in 18th or 75th or something, I only won $65 - but that's way better than nothing and I am all enthused. Perhaps I can find an addictive pathways center in my brain for gambling after all. Meanwhile, I have to call Juanita & Diego back - I want my money and I can't figure out how to get it out of the computer.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Yeah Birthday

Well, the lexapro is finally kicking in and I'm starting to feel better. This is awesome; praise lexapro! Yeah antidepressants! Antidepressants are a Good Thing! Or, then, it's possible that it was just having such a nice birthday that has made me more cheerful. It was a really lovely day & night & thank you to all my various friends who made it that way. I'm sorry I've been such an unholy pain lately, but I swear I'm getting better now.

Yesterday I went to the arboretum with my mother. I hadn't been there in ages and so I had never seen the huge bonsai exhibition they have. I'm ambivalent on bonsai; the process is so paintstaking and then it looks so sculpturally cool that it invokes my inner 10 year old (never far from the surface) who thinks wow! I would like to play with troll dolls around that bonsai tree! But then something in me recoils from, what is, let's face it, basically torturing trees. I barely have the heart to prune the roses; there is no way I could cut tree roots and wire limbs to force them here and there. They did have a bonsai made out of wisteria though and I could wrap my mind around that - I wonder if I could do it with honeysuckle. Torturing honeysuckle bothers me not at all; I actually find it quite a soothing and meditative practice.

Then, in the evening, the kids and I went and had a festive dinner at Sunny Point, which I always thought was about the best restaurant in Asheville. I still think that - for breakfast/lunch/brunch. Dinner was not as all fired incredible as I had hoped it would be. It was good, but it wasn't great. I had the stuffed trout special, which came with mashed potatos. The whole thing was sitting in a stone cold sauce (so cold, in fact, that I am assuming it was meant to be cold) and honestly it was kind of gluey and all of it was white. Some lemon, something lighter, something with some zing would have been a good addition. M had a chicken breast with kalamata olives over risotto and while that was delicious, it was way too rich and not really as good as the chicken/olive/artichoke thing that I make from time to time. The risotto itself was really really good though, and you can't fake a risotto. A had a Cobb salad which was huge and, bonus, cheap. Go for the salad.

So after dinner, stuffed and logey, I went on over to Drinking Liberally and had a fantastic awesome time, even though, or possibly because, Screwy Hoolie stood up in the middle of it and announced that it was my birthday in a loud voice which carried across all of Jack of the Wood and then the entire bar sang Happy Birthday to me while I stood there and turned extremely bright red. Then people bought me drinks; my awesome astrologer friend J brought me a copy of my birth chart and we talked for a long time; my other friend J showed up, which she hardly ever does; I ran into yet another one of my friends J who I hardly ever see, along with a bunch of the old bluegrass jam people I also hardly ever see anymore; my friend C recited poetry at me and while I was sitting talking to my friend M I met a guy with the same birthday as me. So it was really fun, big fun and when I got home M and I watched The Lost World (he was incredulous at first at the simple beautiful badness of it, but he's hooked now too) and then I went to sleep. Ah birthdays.

And now, what is almost the best part, I am looking for a digital camera, because I also got some birthday money, hooray, hooray, and instead of being sensible and saving it to spend on bills and food and boring shit like that, I am going to blow it on myself and buy a nice camera. I've just been researching and while what I really want is an SLR, I don't think I can afford even a used one, damn damn, but oh well. So please, help me out here. I want the closest thing to an SLR I can get for under $400; I want to take awesome incredible photos that are much better than my usual photos. I would really like the ability to do macros, as well as a good zoom and I think I need at least 5 megapixels, since I really want to start doing a lot more high res, print quality stuff instead of all the mostly web things I usually do. Recommendations? Thoughts? Comments? Speak to me! Help me get the camera that I will have forever and love!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

This is It

The day I've been dreading. In 24 hours it will all be over, except for the party, that's what I keep telling myself, it doesn't mean anything, it's just a day, and yet it's only 9:15 am and I already had to apologize to my mother, my daughter and my dog for not being a satisfactory birthday girl. But I did get a card from my cigarettes, which was thoughtful of them. A few weeks ago they gave me a tote bag too, made of recycled soda bottles and alarmingly ugly. My cigarettes are my true friends, apparently, either that or they can't believe I'm still alive, despite their best efforts to kill me off.

I got an email from the one old friend who always, always remembers my birthday. He said, "Where have the years gone? In my mind's eye I can still see the wafty bo-ho
artist fumbling around downtown charleston"
and you know, so can I, and I really wonder where the hell she's gone too. Thanks, R.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

theo the magnificent

theo the magnificent
Originally uploaded by zen♫.
Courtesy of Zen the magnificent, photographer extraordinaire, here's Theo looking oh so incredibly good that you just know there's a half chewed shoe carefully stashed under a bush somewhere.

Ah Asheville

I went to see my new therapist again today and I really like him, although my brain has this tendency to swerve wildly between believing in things "new age" and not believing in them at ALL, and he definitely tends towards things of a newish age nature. Only in Asheville, I believe, does your therapist think you should a) get your chart done, b) go to a sweat lodge and c) do some kind of ritual to invoke the spirits of your ancestors for guidance. That's actually not a bad idea, because it turns out I'm afraid of my ancestors, which is something I didn't know until I considered having them all over for dinner and drinks as it were. I think he wants me to face my fears, which is going to take a while, but I suppose it must be done, and I guess we might as well start with the family. I know it seems weird to fear your ancestors, but I do have a lot of them, and the ones for which photographic evidence exists tend towards long beards and stern expressions. Even the women don't really look, you know, jolly, and the children are all completely serious, even when they're shoved into pony carts or standing there with dogs. And then something about 100 year old photographs of dogs really gets to me, somehow, and I have been known to sniffle.

In other depression news, I put myself back on Lexapro, since I have about 5 weeks worth stashed away, even discounting the one pill Theo ate a while back (didn't affect him at all. Dogs don't need anti depressants - I wish I could get that enthused about a milkbone myself.) The only problem is that my stash expired in October 2005. Of course I took one first and then started to worry that I'd poisoned myself and that terrible hallucinations, shock and death would soon follow. Fortunately, though, I have all these friends who work in mental health (yeah, I know, I know) and one of them found out for me that Lexapro doesn't really turn into LSD or arsenic or anything when it's out of date, it just gets, possibly, less potent. So we shall see whether my brain chemicals get sufficiently altered to turn me into less of whatever it is I am right now and more of a sort of cheerful (not too cheerful, never that) human type being.

My mother says that depression is a completely rational reaction to the state of the world today and all smart people should be depressed. Of course she also says that there's never been any kind of mental illness or depression in our family at all, ever, and when I point out that both my grandmothers were hospitalized for depression or madness or, actually, since I have no idea what they were put away for, who knows, maybe that convenient female complaint of nerves, she says that people were always locking women up in those days for no reason at all. This has always evoked a picture in my head of a guy with a big butterfly net lurking around a city street, just waiting to nab a passing woman and haul her off for electro shock therapy - and then that's that, for as my aunt, famously, once said "Mother was never the same after the shock treatment."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Depression & Parties

Ah, being kind of down and yet having parties - two great tastes that taste great together. Anyway, I'm not having this party. My friend J is, on Saturday, and I am co-hosting it, because it is kind of for my, uh, birthday, about which the less said the better, because I am just not in the birthday mood, unless the birthday mood is fairly blue. Why am I so down? I think it is the birthday thing, combined, you know, with the broke thing and the fat thing and the dateless thing. Not to worry though, because no matter how awful & gloomy I get, I am totally capable of cheering up for a good party, therefore, if you want me to cheer up, you will come to this party.

I just went to send out some email invites & realized I don't have everyone's email and I'm too lazy to try to dig all over the place and find them, so if you didn't get an invitation and you would like to come, drop me a line (you can get to my email by clicking on my avatar up there in the upper right hand corner, or, as I discovered today, for you poor IE users, way down in the lower right hand corner) and I'll send you directions and stuff. Saturday night. This Saturday. May 6. It's in West Asheville. She is threatening, or promising, depending on your outlook, croquet. And it's also a Kentucky Derby party. Did I mention that? Yes, the Derby, traditionally run on or near my birthday and on which I have never, yet, won one thin dime. Such is life and horseracing.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Unsolved Mysteries

There are portents and omens abounding, oh yes. There are peculiarities and metasynchronicities; there are rips in the space time continuum and general weirdness is at an all time high.

The remote control for my TV/DVD player has reappeared after being, apparently, on vacation for almost 10 months. Not only that, but it heralded it's reappearance in this plane by causing not one but two substitute "universal" remotes that had been procured to replace it to break down. To backtrack a bit, the original remote that came with the TV vanished completely and utterly sometime early last fall. We searched and searched and turned the house upside down; there was wailing and gnashing of teeth, and one sibling was driven to accuse the other sibling of absconding with it and taking it to school for nefarious purposes or maybe just because sibling #2 is notoriously absentminded about what exactly is in said siblings backpack at any given time. Finally it was assumed that the demon hound had eaten it whole, although it was unlike him not to leave shredded remnants around. So we bought a universal remote, which more or less worked.

Then, in the last week or two, this universal remote suddenly died and couldn't be resurrected and I bought another one. It absolutely refused to work at all, so, using my vast resources of arcane technical knowledge, I decided that the electric eye type answering gremlin thingy in the TV that responds to the invisible ultra ionic magic zapper beam from the remote was, clearly, broken and the TV would, thus, either have to be replaced or taken into the TV repair shop. I suspected that the cost of both options would be roughly equivalent, so, naturally, I didn't do anything except stop watching The Lost World, which has left my evenings empty and bereft. I hate not being able to watch people fight dinosaurs and giant bees; it's just so. . so. . lonely. Then the other day when I was cleaning up for the party, I found the original magical remote. Sitting in plain view on the end table in the living room. Just sitting there innocently as if it had never been lost. Now, I am not Martha Stewart or my mother, we all know this, and yes, a fairly thick level of dust has been known to establish itself on my household surfaces, but even I dust more than once every 10 months, and I swear to you on the proverbial stack of bibles that that damn thing was not sitting there last week, or, indeed, at any time since it vanished. It's a big clunky hideous brown remote, for one thing, not a sleek black fashionable remote like all the others in the house, and it has toothmarks at one end from an encounter with the demon hound. But there it was; here it is again, and, more to the point, it works like a charm, so it must have disabled the other remotes when it snapped back into existence from the 9th dimension. There's no other explanation.

In more unsettling omen news, on Saturday, as I was cleaning up party detritus (it was a fabulous party, by the way, and the cleanup wasn't even all that bad, yay) I kept walking past a stick in my path. Every time I saw it I kind of jumped, because this was one of those snake appearing sticks that at first glance looks distinctly serpentine. Finally I got fed up with jumping and then saying, oh, that's just that stick, so I picked it up (after, okay, poking it several times with another stick to make sure it was, in fact, a stick and not a snake, not that I have any major problems with snakes, but I do like to be forewarned before I actually handle them) and threw it towards the weeds/trees/bushes/jungle that make up the back end of my yard. Where it caught on a branch and somehow became supple and draped itself over the branch, just as a snake would have done. I just added a picture, so you can see I am not kidding. It's still there. I think it kind of broke itself in two but not quite, and managed to hang itself up on that branch that way, but I am here to tell you that there are few things in this world more deeply creepiness inducing than picking up a stick that looks like a snake but feels like a stick and throwing it - only to have it behave like a snake. Cold shivers ran up and down my back and I heard the distant clanging footsteps of the gods as they moved, impenetrable and obscure, through their fabled halls. Well, no, actually, that didn't happen. What happened was I said, Holy Shit, and stood there staring at the stick/snake for a while and then shook myself and came inside and did my level best to forget the whole thing while simultaneously wondering what, if anything, this Meant.

So you see, weird shit is going down and magic is afoot, or whatever that annoying pagan bumpersticker says. Be on guard. Carry a rowan twig, or an amulet, or perhaps a .22. And if you know what my remote has been doing on another planet for the last ten months, I'd love to hear about it.